Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First chapter of OT, redone

I'm close enough to finding Jake's voice that I can share what I worked on during the trip down to NYC.
“Why do you stay with Tone?”

It was my stepmother, Mira, asking me. I was en route to Copenhagen and had a stopover in Paris, so she met me for lunch at de Gaulle. My short-hopper wasn’t taking off till five, which didn’t give me time enough to pop out to see my brothers and sisters, but her office is in St. Denis, just a half-hour away. And...there’s the fact that she asked to see me, and she’s been too good an ally against my dad for me to say no. Who knew it’d lead me straight into hell?

Mira’d hinted at wanting to know my reasons, before, but I don’t answer half-questions, meaning the hint was always ignored. So this time she asked it straight out. In English. To make it clear she wanted a real answer. Of course, what she actually said was, “Iacof, what is your loyalty with this Antony?”

Nobody but me calls him Tone; nobody but her calls me by my Persian name – well, half-Persian; other half's American mutt.

She already knew about the trouble we had in Texas. Tone filled her in, though not in the extreme detail he normally uses. I don’t think she’d have wanted to meet me, if he had – at least, not till her psychiatrist’s brain had picked his apart to see what was inside. As if anybody ever could know why Tone does the things he does. Even I didn’t, half the time, and I was closer to him than anybody. He’s got these pockets of secrets locked away in his brain that he won’t let you see till he’s damn good and ready. Hell, he didn’t even let me know they’d talked till I was about to go through security.

“I wanted her to understand – what happened was all on me,” he said. He was sneaking into one of his shaking fits, he was so scared of how I’d react. We’d agreed not to explain the fucked up situation to anybody, but then he’d gone and done his usual Tone thing – jump first, fuck the consequences. “So I got her number from Ari. I – I didn’t want her to hear about it from anybody else. You know how the press makes shit up and people lie -- .”

I’d just held him close and let him take his time calming down. I’ve never known anybody who could work himself up like he could. My big bad Tone. Well...HE thought he was big and bad. And considering some of the shit he’d pulled, I could see how people would agree. Because he can get this focus going that’s so damned intense, he forgets everything else and, to use his own phrase, he goes batshit-crazy.

That’s one of the things he’s been fighting to get control of for the last year, and he’s been doing good. He found this guy in Austin who knows how to talk to him, so once a week my guy'd borrow his dad’s Chrysler, zip up there and unload for an hour, then have a bite to eat and book it on home. The routine made him easy as aces.


But once a month, his probation officer has a meeting with him on the same day, obnoxiously reminding him that this cool and fantastic therapist is required to give the fucked-up state of Texas steady progress reports on him. After the second time I had to pick him up because he was too freaked out to drive, I went with him on those days. Did some sketches while I waited through both appointments. Then when he left the asshole’s office, I’d put my arms ‘round him and hold him till he was just my Tone, again.

Just my Tone. A little bit taller than me, a little bit slimmer than me, a little boy’s face under a mop of brown hair and eyes that all but scream, “Be careful; I’ll hurt you.” And a hell of a lot crazier than me. The first second I saw him, I knew he needed someone to protect him...sometimes from himself, which he proved by almost getting himself killed after jumping into some shit he couldn’t handle. Twice.

I never knew what went on in his therapy sessions. Didn’t want to, and I made damn sure he understood it. I don’t want him to hold back anything for fear it might freak me out. He still can’t believe I’m okay with what happened, that I don’t think less of him or won’t leave him. The one thing about me he can’t seem to get through his thick skull is, I know how people can be. I’ve been in a state prison. I’ve seen how guards’re no better than jackals and convicted killers can be on God’s side. A lifetime of learning jammed into a year and a half. Hell, I’d done things in there that I’d never thought I was even capable of doing, and I was halfway to being a hard-ass when I was sent in. So I knew without question that nobody, absolutely nobody, has the right to judge anybody else.

Anyway, we’d stand there for as long as he wanted. Then his shaking’d go away and he’d kiss my neck to let me know he was back, and we’d have a slop of greasy Tex-Mex and a Margarita and drive home.

Now don’t get me wrong -- it wasn’t always like that. Hell, for the six months we lived together in Copenhagen, he was happy and I felt easy, and we got to where we could almost read each other’s minds, we were so close. And man -- when Tone gets close to you -- and turns his focus on you -- it makes you feel like you’re the only guy in the world. That you’re all that matters. He’s granite under your feet, he locks in on you so tight. Those months gave me back all the confidence I’d lost in the previous three years. Rebuilt my meaning and reality, and more than made up for his occasional freak-outs.

It’s why I was willing to live in Texas, again, as much as I fucking hate that fucking state. The powerhouse factions of its judicial system spent a year trying to figure out some way of blaming him for the fact that a bunch of corrupt scumbags had taken over the police, jails, and DA’s office of one densely-populated county so completely, it was like a private fiefdom. Tone’s phrase, not mine. But his attorney was damn good, and for every feint the assholes in Austin tried they got a parry in return. Now Texas had a new Attorney General who’d finally figured out he really wanted us to just go away. Meaning, Tone’d be able to leave the country, soon...and that wouldn’t be a day too soon for me.

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